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French magistrates order HSBC to post a 1bn Euro bail to cover potential fine

Monday, April 13th 2015 - 07:38 UTC
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HSBC’s Swiss bank is under investigation in several countries after leaked documents suggest it hid millions of dollars helping wealthy people dodge taxes. HSBC’s Swiss bank is under investigation in several countries after leaked documents suggest it hid millions of dollars helping wealthy people dodge taxes.
A former HSBC employee, Hervé Falciani, gave the data to French tax authorities in 2008. France shared it with other governments A former HSBC employee, Hervé Falciani, gave the data to French tax authorities in 2008. France shared it with other governments

French judges have ordered HSBC Holdings to post a one-billion Euro bail to cover a potential fine after the bank was put under formal criminal investigation over allegations it helped customers dodge their taxes.

 It is the latest problem to hit HSBC over a tax evasion scandal at its Swiss private bank. HSBC said it intends to appeal the French magistrates’ decision, which it said was “without legal basis and the bail is unwarranted and excessive.”

HSBC’s Swiss bank is under investigation in several countries after leaked documents suggested it hid millions of dollars as it helped wealthy people around the world dodge taxes.

A former HSBC employee, Hervé Falciani, gave the data to French tax authorities in 2008. France shared it with other governments and launched investigations.

A spokesman for the French financial prosecutor’s office, Franck Charon, said the London-based bank was placed under investigation on Wednesday in the long-running French probe for tax fraud.

The amount of the deposit is almost half of the scale of the alleged fraud by the HSBC, a person familiar with the matter said. The magistrates estimate HSBC’s fraud is about 2.2 billion Euros, the source said.

The source said HSBC contests that figure, and the bank has always disputed the number of clients the French authorities have claimed its Swiss bank had.

The source said the deposit had to be posted by June 20, which would allow an appeals court to consider HSBC’s appeal.

HSBC is the second big bank to have a hefty bail imposed on it by French magistrates in the last year, after Switzerland’s UBS had to provide 1.1 billion Euro to the court to cover a potential fine for alleged money laundering. UBS’s appeal against that bond was dismissed.

Under French court process, companies can be ordered to post a deposit when they are put under formal investigation, known as mise en examen, even if charges are not brought.

The latest move is against HSBC’s holding company, relating to matters in 2006 and 2007, and steps up the pressure on the British bank after a series of scandals in recent years have prompted criticism it is too big and complex.

HSBC has admitted failings in controls at its Swiss private bank following media reports that it helped wealthy customers conceal millions of dollars of assets.

HSBC’s Swiss Private Bank had already been placed under formal criminal examination by magistrates in both France and Belgium, but the latest move is against the holding company. HSBC’s Swiss unit previously posted a 50 million euro bond with French magistrates.

Categories: Economy, Politics, International.

Top Comments

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  • Klingon

    Hervé Falciani The modern day Robin Hood!

    Apr 13th, 2015 - 01:24 pm 0
  • Ex

    They employee unprofesssional and unqualified staff to do the due dilagence so that the authroties think “they are doing somthing about it!”. They use a process called risk vs reward begore they consider exiting a customer which really means the “the amount of income the customer brings in” vs “the risk of this customer begin caught and them being associated with them”....and if an employee challenges them they get sacked by a manufacturrd gross miscoduct! - They are criminals and nothing will be done about it.

    Apr 14th, 2015 - 07:24 am 0
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